Venezuela to prosecute doctors who alerted public to disease

Venezuela to prosecute doctors who alerted public to disease

President Nicolás Maduro said he ordered the prosecution of doctors who had alerted the public to the recent deaths of nine people in a public hospital from an unidentified but possibly infectious disease.

“They wanted to impose a scheme of alarm, of psychological terrorism,” Mr. Maduro said Wednesday in a speech broadcast on TV. “There is no other name for this, it’s terrorism.” …

Mr. Maduro’s warnings come after doctors said publicly said that they suspected a possible outbreak of Chikungunya disease, which is carried by mosquitoes from victim to victim, in the city of Maracay just west of here. Mr. Maduro’s government, which has lost support amid an economic crisis and soaring crime, hasn’t said what it believes caused the deaths.

From Aug. 30 until Sunday, nine people—four of them children—died at the large Central Hospital of Maracay, medical personnel in the city said. Doctors and the family of the last victim, Franklin Fossi, 41, a truck driver who died on Sunday, said he and the other victims suffered from fevers, blisters on their skin and severe joint pain.

“We don’t know what we are confronting,” Angel Sarmiento, the president of the Medical College of Aragua state, told reporters last week. …

Mr. Maduro…suggested that the doctors who had criticized his government’s handling of the case might have even been plotting a biological attack against the country.

“We have serious suspicions that the right-wing was aiming to introduce a type of virus in the hospital in Maracay or elsewhere,” he said. “Their campaign fell into the abyss, thanks to God.”

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